Fitzpatrick Leads Bipartisan Effort to Modernize Anti-Poverty Grants

Jan 14, 2014
Fitzpatrick Leads Bipartisan Effort to Modernize Anti-Poverty Grants

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8) lead a bipartisan push for increased local control and modernization of anti-poverty block grants with the introduction of the Community Service Block Grant Act [H.R. 3854] this week.

“Tackling poverty and increasing access to the American dream starts at the local level,” said Fitzpatrick. “The introduction of the Community Service Block Grant Act is a step in the right direction when it comes to refocusing our anti-poverty efforts in the communities that need it most, and getting support to the local leaders who know how best to put those funds to work.”

The legislation will reauthorize the Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) program which supports more than 1,000 non-profit Community Action Agencies – including local groups like the Bucks County Opportunity Council - tasked with serving economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. The CSBG was last reauthorized in 1998.

“In communities across the country, including here in Bucks County, there is a need to offer a helping hand for people to leave poverty and access opportunity to thrive – something this legislation does. By putting funds in the hands of community groups that understand and work on this issue every day, this legislation offers an escape path for underserved children, seniors and disadvantaged,” said Roger Collins, executive director of the Bucks County Opportunity Council. “I’d like to thank Congressman Fitzpatrick for his tireless leadership on anti-poverty efforts, and continued support for all the local Community Action Agencies across the nation as well as the Bucks County Opportunity Council.”

"This bill doesn't just reinvest in the best of the War on Poverty and improve accountability in crucial community programs, but it also sparks innovation and strengthens local control, which are invaluable developments,” added David Bradley, co-founder and CEO of National Community Action Foundation. “The leadership of Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick and Congressman Jim Costa proves that poverty can be a bi-partisan issue. Their willingness to reach across the aisle and really help their neighbors in this day and age of gridlock will not be forgotten. These members have earned their communities' gratitude."

“I’m encouraged this measure has strong bipartisan support, because efforts to strengthen families, increase self-sufficiency and address local needs shouldn’t be a matter of politics,” added Fitzpatrick of the bill which was introduced along with co-sponsors Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA).

“Already they have served more than 17 million low-income individuals by providing access to critical services such as job training, nutrition support, financial counseling, and early education,” said McCollum “By empowering communities to make choices on a local level about how to best serve their families, each community is able to invest in the support services they want and need. This reauthorization builds on the successes of agencies in Minnesota and throughout United States, but also includes needed reforms to ensure federal dollars are being spent effectively.”

“Every community faces its own challenges and needs its own solutions that invest locally in our nation’s greatest asset, our people,” said Costa. “This bill and CSBG empower innovative, coordinated efforts that improve economic opportunities for families, seniors, and communities as a whole.”

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Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He represents Pennsylvania’s 8th district which includes all of Bucks County as well as a portion of Montgomery County. He serves as the Vice Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

Congresswoman Betty McCollum is serving her seventh term in the U.S. House of Representative. She represents Minnesota’s 4th Congressional District which includes the state capital of St. Paul. She serves on the House Appropriations Committee and is Democratic Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus.

Congressman Jim Costa proudly represents the 16th District of California, which includes all of Merced County, as well as parts of Fresno and Madera Counties. A third-generation family farmer, he serves on the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committees.